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Survivors in swimsuits talk with expat volunteer police on Wednesday night

Ferry Owner to Compensate Survivors of Krabi-Phuket Tragedy: Some Face Passport Delays

Friday, April 10, 2015
PHUKET: Efforts to restore passports to people who lost documentation and all possessions when a Krabi-to-Phuket ferry burned and sank this week are likely to be hampered by the Songkran New Year holiday festival in Thailand.

But compensation is being paid by the owners of the 20 million baht ferry that sank after burning to the waterline, with 117 passengers and crew jumping into the sea to escape the heat and flames.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are national holidays in Thailand. People who do not get new passports today may be forced to wait until next Thursday.

Phuketwan has learned that people who lost passports in the tragedy, which cost the life of a 12-year-old Israeli girl, included three Americans, two Indians, an Italian, an Australian and an Irish citizen, all based in Krabi.

More people among the 91 survivors bused back to Phuket on Wednesday night after the burning and sinking of the Ao Nang Princess 5 also lost everything.

Some had only the swimsuits in which they stood.

It has been established that passengers on the vessel included Thais, Hungarians, Australians, Israelis, Chinese, Americans, Canadians, British, Egyptians, Ukrainians, Dutch, Germans, Indians, Italians, a Colombian, at least one Irish citizen and a Lithuanian.

A spokesperson for the owner of the vessel said yesterday that having dealt with the problems of the people in Krabi, the staff deployed to help surviving passengers would move on to Phuket today.

''Dealing with the death of the young girl was a priority,'' the spokesperson said.

''The vessel was fully insured and the owner is keen to compensate anyone for out-of-pocket expenses involved in getting their new passports.''

The mother and father of Shanni Maril left Phuket yesterday bound for israel with the girl's brother and sister. Her body, recovered by divers from the wreck yesterday, remains in Krabi.

Passengers told Phuketwan reporters at Phuket City Police Station on Wednesday night that they heard Mr Maril calling out for Shanni as the flames spread and passengers scrambled to don life vests and jump into the sea as fast as possible.

Shanni had gone to the toilet in the stern of the vessel, near where the fire began in the engine room - possibly from a spark or an explosion.

Nati Hadad, an Israeli search and rescue worker who went to Krabi to assist with recovery of survivors and the vessel, told israelhayom.com: ''[The girl's father] had no choice but to save himself and his other children, as the fire had already grown stronger, putting everyone on the boat in grave danger.

''There was major chaos on the ferry, and the parents were forced to watch the ferry burn and sink with their daughter in it.

''The rest of the family members were saved, because they were at the front of the boat with the rest of the passengers, but the girl was at the stern where the fire had started.''

The Chabad emissary in Phuket, Rabbi Eliezer Leinz, told Israel Hayom about his encounter with the family: ''We sat down and cried together.

''They told me they took a one-day trip from Phuket to Krabi, and at a certain point their daughter went to the toilet.

''A few moments later a loud explosion rocked the boat which began to catch fire as a result.

''The father said he ran to the toilets to try and save his daughter, but it was too late as everything was already engulfed in flames and smoke and he realised he needed to save the rest of the family.''

Coordinating an appropriate response proved difficult but police on Krabi and Phuket coped remarkably well. The big deficiency was the lack of support from the embassies and the honorary consuls on Phuket.

Although translators were organised among tour guides and with the addition of expat police volunteers, police neglected to let the embassies and honorary consuls know what was happening.

The process of restoring documents should have begun for more of the survivors on Wednesday night, with telephone calls to the island's 24 honorary consuls.

Some even have responsibility for both Phuket and Krabi.

Relations between consuls and authorities have decayed since Governor Nisit Jansomwong and his predecessor Maitree Intrusud decided not to hold the scheduled three-monthly forums, where consuls, Phuket authorities and police got to know each other.

Chinese tourist Shiyu Ji, 22, told Phuketwan on Wednesday night that she had been travelling with a group of 11 and they were one week into a two-week stay on Phuket when the ferry sank.

''We haven't been given a lot of information,'' she said. ''Now I want to head home as soon as I can.''

Ironically, it's expected that reaction to the disaster will become a discussion point when honorary consuls do meet with the governor - after a long break of seven months.

The meeting, now scheduled for April 21, has already been postponed once. It's also not clear yet whether police and other Phuket administrators will join.

It's planned for a private hotel rather than the spacious forum room at Phuket Provincial Hall.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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How much is a 12 year old's life worth? How much is the permanent emotional damage to the girls family worth, people never get over the death of their child. This appears to have been an avoidable accident, imagine if this was in the USA there would be ten of millions of dollars of payouts.

Posted by Welcome To Paradise on April 10, 2015 17:12

Editor Comment:

There is no such thing as an accident.

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How do you want boat operators to be able to be up to international standards with expensive costs of boat operating if all profits are sucked by touts and travel agents?

The Thai government should reduce the too strong competition for commissions between tour providers, tour operators and touts as all tour boat operators have to give them up to 50% even more about commissions to get enough customers to pay yearly expenses.

Also, they are only one governmental Marine Training Center in Thailand and none in the Andaman Sea and all boat crews in the Andaman Sea get their helmsman driving license by paying a fee and some kick-backs to the Harbour Department.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on April 10, 2015 19:26

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I was on this ferry with my wife and and I can't imagine what the family of that young girl have gone through.
I hope that a full investigation is completed and improvements raised as would happen anywhere else but worry it won't. There was only 100 aboard on this occasion if this was during their busy months there could have been double that as they have no control over number of tickets sold.
We lost all we had passports credit cards clothes etc and had no help or contact what so ever from the ferry company and I fear now we are back in the UK we will hear nothing from them regards compensation.

Posted by i marshall on April 19, 2015 21:22

Editor Comment:

We will check but we will need the help of passengers to let us know whether they've heard anything. The company's examination of the details has shown they will need to fight for insurance coverage. The Foreign Office also needs to act on behalf of all those who lost possessions.


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